Olympic-bound figure skater Cha Jun-hwan becomes 1st South Korean man to win Four Continents gold

Cha Jun-hwan overcame a fall at the start of his free skate to become the first South Korean man to win gold at the Four Continents figure skating championships Sunday in Tallinn, Estonia.

Japan's Kazuki Tomono finishes 2nd ahead of compatriot Kao Miura

South Korea's Cha Jun-hwan performs during the men's short program at the Four Continents figure skating championships on Friday in Tallinn, Estonia. (Ints Kalnins/Reuters)

Cha Jun-hwan overcame a fall at the start of his free skate to become the first South Korean man to win gold at the Four Continents figure skating championships Sunday in Tallinn, Estonia.

Skating to music from the opera "Turandot," Cha took a tumble on his opening quadruple toeloop but recovered to score 174.26 in his free skate, extending his short-program lead with a total of 273.22.

That kept him ahead of Japan's Kazuki Tomono on 268.99. Another Japanese skater, Kao Miura, was third on 251.07.

Joseph Phan of Laval, Que., was sixth in the free skate and finished as top Canadian in ninth overall (220.85) followed by Toronto's Corey Circelli in 11th (213.02).

Tenth after Friday's short program, Phan delivered a clean free skate landing his seven jumps. He opened with a triple Axel-triple toe combination and landed two more combos as well as another triple Axel. Both his free skate score of 151.15 and total score of 220.85 were personal bests at the international level.

He scored slightly higher earlier this month in a fourth-place result at nationals.

''I was really nervous before my free skate, I think even more than at nationals'' Phan told reporters. "But I was still able to manage it properly. During my program I just stayed focused, taking one jump at a time and trusted my skates.."

The only previous South Korean to win a Four Continents gold was Kim Yuna in the women's competition in 2009.

Cha was one of relatively few skaters at Four Continents who are also heading to the Olympics next month. The U.S., Canada and Japan all sent squads of skaters who weren't selected for the Beijing Games, in part to avoid would-be Olympians contracting the coronavirus. China did not send a team.

Earlier this week, Japan's Mai Mihara won gold in the women's competition, Audrey Lu and Misha Mitrofanov of the U.S. won the pairs event and Caroline Green and Michael Parsons of the U.S. were champions in ice dance.

WATCH | Replay of Sunday's men's free skate:

Four Continents men's free program

5 months ago
Duration 3:28:11
Watch the ISU Four Continents men's free program from Tondiraba Ice Hall in Tallinn, Estonia.

With files from CBC Sports

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